Microsoft kicks off sales of lower-priced Office subscription in bid for iPad dollars

$70 Office 365 Personal covers one PC or one Mac, plus one tablet

Five weeks after announcing a lower-cost subscription to Office, Microsoft today started selling Office 365 Personal to consumers.

The new subscription plan costs $69.99 annually, or $6.99 monthly, a 30% discount from the Office 365 Home deal, which runs $99.99 a year or $9.99 each month.

Microsoft announced Office 365 Personal on March 13, and said then that the plan would be available this spring.

Unlike Office 365 Home -- formerly called Home Premium -- Office 365 Personal gives buyers the right to install the Office suite on just one PC or Mac, not five, and on only one tablet rather than five.

An Apple iPad counts as a tablet.

When Microsoft first mentioned Office 365 Personal, analysts saw it as an "obvious preface" to Office finally coming to the iPad, a move Microsoft made two weeks later.

In fact, Microsoft touted the iPad connection to Office 365 Personal today: The blog announcing Personal's availability was titled "Office 365 Personal now available-and unlocks editing and document creation on iPad."

Office 365 Personal includes the same software as the more expensive Home, including Office 2013 (on Windows) or Office for Mac 2011; and the same extras, ranging from 20GB of OneDrive storage space to 60 minutes of international calling on Skype each month.

It also comes with the same restrictions: By the licensing agreement, Office 365 Personal cannot be used "for commercial, non-profit, or revenue-generating activities."

Microsoft sells Office 365 Personal from its online store and through electronic resellers as a download, and via product key cards at retail. The latter include a product code that activates a subscription and allows the software to run.

While prices for the downloadable version of the subscription vary only slightly -- on Tuesday, Amazon.com listed Office 365 Personal for $69, a savings of only $0.99 -- a product key card for the more capable Office 365 Home can be found on the giant e-tailer's website for as little as $63.15, or $6 less than Office 365 Personal.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

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